Planning to buy or sell a home? You’re just going to make one of the most important and biggest financial transactions of your life and you definitely do not want to go through the entire process alone. When you have a good real estate agent at hand, it can make all the difference in your property investment. A good real estate agent knows everything about the current market backwards and forwards.
They have a well-developed network of contacts to keep you well communicated throughout the transaction and they can also work as fantastic negotiators. If your agent is an inexperienced or ineffective one, the outcome can be really disappointing. The key point in choosing a real estate agent is to find someone who will work with your best interests at heart and will do everything required to help you get the very best deal. Let’s check out how you can find the best real estate agent you can possibly get.
Ways & Means to Search and Screen for a Good Agent
1. Get Referrals This is how most of the real estate agents primarily find work. When they complete job successfully, the satisfied customers share their experiences with other homebuyers and sellers and they get new work. To get honest and good referrals, it’s wise to ask for referrals from your friends and family. Asking around for referrals is particularly important when you’re planning to invest in a new area.
2. Do Your Research The recommendations of your friends or family are important, but you still need to do some independent research to find the best real estate agent. First of all, make sure the agent has valid licensing requirements. Apart from the licensing, you should also look for someone who has closed on many properties and is a local expert in your area of investment.
3. Meet Agents Out and About You can’t just choose a real estate agent before you’ve met him or her in person. You can’t also schedule a sit-down visit at an office. Instead, you should meet them in their own world. For instance, call the agents and ask to view the properties. Even if you’re not interested to purchase that property, check out the agent in action.
You’ll get the time to chit chat with the agents to assess their capability and understanding about that particular housing area. Home sellers can get a very good idea of how well the agent is at selling a home from their interaction with potential buyers. This allows you to meet a prospective agent in a more comfortable and low-pressure environment.
4. Look out for the Web Savvy In these days of modern technology, most real estate agents are likely to have a website of their own and many use these sites to acquire business. This does not necessarily mean that they are great at property marketing. However, with the increasing trend of home-buyers and tenants shopping around online before heading out to an open house, the power of online marketing cannot be ignored. So make sure that your agent or his or her team offers online marketing services too.
5. Don’t Get Passed to an Assistant Hiring a busy agent is a very good idea. This type of agents works harder for marketing your property. They can dig up more properties for you and are great at doing their jobs. The problem with these agents is that they might be too busy to carry out the business with you in person. A real estate agent can handle around seven or eight clients at the same time. So if the agent you’re interested in is working with a dozen clients at once, it’s more likely that you’ll be passed to an assistant.
6. Invite Multiple Agents to Value Your Property When you’re short-listing your agents, make sure to have at least three agents to value your property. During property valuation, don’t be too impressed with the agents who value your property the highest, because this could just be a trick to win your business. You’ll want an agent who will be honest and fair, who will not overvalue or undervalue your property and can get potential buyers/tenants at that price.
7. Ask a Lot of Questions Questioning an agent brings out his or her weakness and strengths. If it’s your first time as a homebuyer, ask the agent how many first-time buyers he has worked with. Ask about the process of marketing and if you were a buyer, how many properties you might expect to see. Discuss about your budget and ask questions about the locality. All details should be discussed thoroughly to make sure that your agent is prepared to help you go through the whole process step by step.
Here are some of the questions you should ask:
- How much will the agent charge for his services? The fee may vary from 1% – 2.5% of the selling price.
- How much experience does the agent have? A well-established agent must have sufficient experience in selling properties surrounding the locality of your property.
- How will the property be advertised? Is it going to be showed up in the local paper? Will it be on a property website? Can the agent show examples of previously advertised properties?
- Will the agents be present at the time of viewings? Also make sure to check if the agents will be available throughout the day and at weekends, because many prospective buyers/tenants can only look out for properties after work or during weekends.
8. Go Undercover Without letting the agent know that you’re planning to hire him or her, visit the shortlisted agents pretending to be a potential buyer/tenant. Observe their attitudes and ask yourself: Would you be satisfied if your property was being described just like the one in front of you? Would you be interested to buy/rent a property from the agent?
9. Ask for Recommendations from the Agent While going through the interviewing process, ask for recommendations from the agent. They can recommend contractors, insurance companies, mortgage brokers, bankers, lawyers and other personnel related to real estate buying and selling. The best real agent will be well-connected, but will never push you towards a specific choice.
Key Signs to Spot A Good Agent
How to spot a good agent when you see one? These are some of the characteristics you must watch out for while choosing your real estate agent. When an agent fails to answer most of your questions regarding property investment, for instance – the age of property, the rental demand, expected rents, cost of maintenance, etc., he is not an expert agent and should be avoided.
But if the agent is honest and would do his best to find out the information for you, it is also a good sign that you can work with him and grow together. When an agent does not reply your calls, it’s probably because he is too picky when it comes to clients. When an agent does not respond your enquiries fast enough, it’s probably because he is not interested to work for you.
When an agent prefers to text you instead of calling, unless the text provides important details like contact numbers or addresses, it means he is stingy and very calculative. He may not spend enough money to advertise for his clients. A good property agent can be spotted with two simple rules of thumb:
- Someone who is willing to go extra miles by providing more services and information than you expected.
- Someone who values time and responds instantly.
- Normal customs apparently dictates that the seller of a property will employ a property agent. However, if you’re a buyer, you can also employ an agent to help you find an investment in return for a professional payment. He is then obligated to represent you and help you purchase your desired property at the best terms and lowest rates.
- The most important things to allow a good agent to work seamlessly for you is to establish an effective communication and mutual respect. With the knowledge and expertise of an established real estate agent and a perfectly cooperative approach from your side, it’s possible to make out a win-win investment situation with any property.
- The services and investment guidance you can receive from a good property agent is well worth what you pay him. Do remember, if you like his services, do pay him well and pay in time.
About the authors
This article is contributed by me and Dr. Ong Kian Leong, and we are both the co-founders of the first ever online property investment course for Malaysians, called Property Method . Dr. Ong Kian Leong (commonly addressed as Dr. OngKL), is the creator of GoFinanceTM, a tool that allows investors to accurately evaluate if an investment is worth investing as well as worth financing for maximum return. Claimed by himself as a student in the life-long learning journey, he is also the master trainer of Property Method and the blogger behind Real Estate Investment Blog.